How will you know you have arrived if you don’t know where you are going?

Do you know where your business is heading? Find out how to get some direction.

How do you know you have arrived if you don’t know where you are going?

I think this is a great saying and very relevant to both life and business. Would you invest your life savings in a finance company who had no defined plans and were just stumbling along form day to day? I am sure most of us would agree that this would not be a wise investment. I see many people investing in their own business however and doing just that. They have no plans, direction or goals. This creates a business atmosphere where the owner is simply being reactive to all situations rather than being able to plan and have the time to make informed choices in their business.

A business plan is not that complicated to achieve and so I have decided to include the basics of a plan in this blog hoping it will allow those of you who simply don’t know where to start.

The beginning of the year is often a time for reflection and setting some goals which we want to achieve over the next 12 months. I don’t know how many times I have said my goal for this year has been to loose weight. Many of the years however I have been setting the same goal for the next year as I haven’t achieved it. Looking back I can see I was never going to achieve it. I never said how much I was going to loose, how I was going to do it, and how I was going to measure the progress at different stages during the year. It’s impossible to achieve something when you don’t know what it is or how you are going to do it. It is not just the beginning of the year where you can set goals however and as they say ‘there is no time like the present”.

This relates to our business as well. Did you set a goal last year? Did you achieve it? If so good on you, really well done. If not maybe it wasn’t the lack of effort that caused it but rather a lack of direction and measurable steps along the way. This is why we need to take some time out once a year and set goals and objectives for our business, otherwise known as a business plan.

In order to do this the partners in your business need to sit down and work out what their vision is, if you haven’t already done that. Then come up with a small statement. Why does your business exist, who does it exist for and what do they expect. Write down what business you are in, who your customer is and what makes you different from others in the same market.

Now that you know what you are there for you need to define what your goals are. What is it that you want to achieve in your business? Look at each area of your business and see how you can improve or change that area. For example Occupancy, income, return clientele, running costs, chattels, customer service to name a few. Define your goals, for instance you may want to increase income by 5%. How can this be achieved?

Now the objectives are formed from the goals. You may say I am going to increase income by increasing occupancy from 60% to 65%. This means I need to increase occupancy by 0.5% each month. This gives you a measurable quantity or a target to achieve.

Next how are we going to achieve this? Maybe by implementing a monthly newsletter to regular guests, introducing a thank you card or e-mail for every guest who stays, giving guests fresh baked muffins on arrival or you may have another idea which is something that is unique and will make you different to the motel down the road. Whatever your goal set yourself a method of achieving it and a method of measuring if this method is working.

Lastly make sure you monitor those goals at the measuring points along the way. Have a bring up system in your diary or on your computer and look to check how the progress is going. You may find that your are achieving well or you may not be meeting the targets. It may be necessary to change the methods you are using or reassess the goal if things are not working out how you planned. If you don’t check and monitor the progress you will be just like me and my weight; at the end of the year you will be surprised to find you haven’t got what you wanted.

Business plans sound complicated and are often put off for other things which seem to be a more immediate need such as re-painting a unit or trying a new advertising avenue. They are of equal importance but are less of a physical thing and so it is harder to see the importance. There is no point painting the unit if you haven’t got any guests to fill it because your competitors have used a business plan which highlighted opportunities to win over your customers.

I know it can seem a bit daunting but a business plan doesn’t have to be a big fancy document. Just write down the steps and follow it through. If anyone would like to do a plan but is not sure where to start just send me an e-mail and I will send you a template document to fill in the blanks. Then you can just start writing after all it will only cost you the price of the ink but could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on your business.